Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto, Tomás Darquin
The sun was slanting long through the side windows, shadows stretching, by the time Darquin finished his explanations. Ginessa was quite through most if it, only stopping him for clarifications from time to time, especially Sheridan’s apparent death and return from Z’ha’dum. That story was already the stuff of legend and controversy within the Army of Light as it was. At one point without asking, she got up, started preparing coffee, and brought the pot over to the table with mugs. As he finished his account of the Agamemnon emerging wounded and intact through the dying embers of the last missile platform in orbit, Darquin watched her face as she poured out the mugs, recognizing the expression from just the day before. She was trying to regain her grasp on a universe that had radically changed.
He accepted his cup with both hands. “Thank you… I know it all sounds real off-the-wall.”
“More than a little, but too much of it fits not to believe you.” She sat down to cradle her own mug of coffee. “I had thought this was bad enough, but in a way… Earth came through this easily by comparison.”
“Well, I dunno about that.”
“Better than a blackened husk, you must admit,” she pointed out. She was still working to grasp ships that could kill worlds, and beings perhaps even older than the worlds they destroyed.
“You got me there. It’s just hard to feel better when you see all the dead… hanging out there.”
“I know,” she nodded, speaking quietly. “I remember the war with the Minbari well enough. I was drafted in as a medical officer then… We had our work cut out for us, and it was more a mortician’s job than a doctor’s, too often.”
Darquin nodded soberly. “I sure hope we don’t have to go through another one.”
“We can hope.” She was quiet a few moments, shaping her thoughts. “There’s something else I wanted to ask you, but it’s nothing to do with all this.”
Darquin chuckled briefly. “Sure, what is it?”
“I’m not sure Kim would give me a straight answer to this one, but there’s reason for getting one, I believe. If you know her at all well you must know about her brother. Do you know any reason why he’d call just a day before you both appear?” She watched him closely for his reply.
Darquin stopped to think and hit on an unpleasant thought. “Probably… because another Psi-Cop we know tipped him off.”
“But why? His interest in her confused me since it reappeared while she was in college, but even now when she’s been missing for years?”
“I guess you could say… they got this idea that she falls in their jurisdiction.”
She frowned, then stiffened slowly. “You don’t mean….?”
He shrugged, raising his hands. “That’s what they seem to think. I can’t say why.”
Ginessa nodded, but kept her worried suspicions for now to herself. “She’s safe, then, with the Rangers?”
“If we have anything to say about it. I suppose they could try anyway, but they’d get a galactic incident on their hands… maybe a faceful of White Stars.”
She was somewhat reassured. “It’s not exactly the kind of job one would wish on family, but maybe it’s the best one for her after all.”
“Well, she knows her path better than either of us–”
Both heads turned at that moment, to the opening of the kitchen door. Kim stepped through, followed closely by the man Darquin had to guess was her grandfather. Tall and broad, his skin repeatedly burned to a brown-red, he looked very different from his wife. Rough hands brushes back over white hair as stepped in with the carriage of one long in military service. Under the short cropped hair, pale husky blue eyes fell critically on Darquin like flashlights in a darkened theater.
Years of Earthforce training and experience made Darquin snap to attention. “Sir.”
A faint, tired smile crossed Kim’s face, but she said nothing.
“Tomas Darquin, isn’t it? Shawn Peterson,” the older man introduced himself shortly, holding out one hand across the table.
Darquin shook his hand, still trying to stay formal in the presence of a superior officer. “Yes, sir. I hope you’re feelin’ well.”
“Well enough, considering. Now–”
Ginessa stepped in smoothly, with long practice at derailing her husband’s interrogations. “Kim, you know your way about. How about you show your friend upstairs and pick out rooms. Tomas would probably like to have a look around as well. We can talk later.”
Shawn looked long at his wife, and considered better than making an argument of it. He nodded briskly if it were something he’d have suggested.
“All right,” Kim agreed. Fortunately has her back to her grandfather, or the amusement and relief in her face would be seen. She jerked her chin toward the stairs.
Darquin quickly followed Kim and what Ginessa said about her brother sprung back to mind.
On the stairs, Kim whispered, “I think I owe you one.”
“Oh?” he prompted quietly. “What happened?”
“Oh, it went all right, even though he doesn’t much like it at first. But you must have done pretty well to get her to head him off like that. I was worried the fireworks were about to start.”
“I did my best. She’s a nice lady.” In a whisper he added, “We have a problem.”
“I thought we already did,” she chuckled. She sobered when Darquin didn’t return it as he usually did. “What is it?”
Darquin glanced behind them. “Your brother’s been asking around. Guess who might’ve tipped ‘im off.”
Kim stopped at the top of the landing, grimacing. “I don’t even have to guess. Did she mention if he’d be calling again?”
“Didn’t say. But he might already be on his way. He called yesterday.”
“Or here already. But he can’t do much. We’re too high profile.”
“He’d want to test us, that’s for sure. The Psi-Corps’ never dealt with Anla’shok much before, if at all.”
“If I hide out in the White Star the whole time we’re here, that’ll really prove something — in their favor.”
“You got a point. Best to make a non-violent stand now, if we can.”
“I want to stay here. It’s been years, and I’m tired of hiding, Tomas.”
Darquin grinned. “Good deal. We’re plantin’ stakes.”
Kim shook her head, but she was smiling. “You’re all too cheerful running into trouble.”
He shrugged. “Scares the hell out of the opposition.”
“I guess so,” she laughed. She opened the first door on the hall. “How does this do you?”
“I think it’ll do fine. As long as I’m not putting anyone out.”
“Not at all. Family rooms on the other side. These are all guest rooms.” She stepped up and opened the drapes. The air it let in wasn’t any cooler than the room, but it was fresh, and real. “Not the most spectacular view, but you can see both the drive and side garage from your windows.”
“Great, thanks.” He leaned to look out one window. “This could be handy.”
“Precisely what I was thinking,” she said. “And something else too along the same lines that might help, is seeing if maybe Meg or any of the others would like a little step away from the city.”
“Now there’s an idea.” He looked up at the sky. “I wonder how everyone’s doing.”
“Me too. It’s been a while since we’ve been so scattered.”
“Yeah… you’re right, maybe it’s time to fix some of that.”
Kim smiled and nodded. “Maybe so. I’ll put a few calls out tonight, I think. But in the mean time… I’d better go down and tell them the rest.”
“For what it’s worth…” He shrugged. “I already tried to explain the Shadow War.”
“Thanks… and for being here too.”
“Glad to. I’ll be here.”
Kim pointed out a second door to the room, left ajar. “Bathroom –even got a bathtub– and everything else you need should all be laid out. Coast should be clear by seven. That’s when dinner’s called.”
“Thanks. And as I seem to keep saying, good luck.”
Kim flashed a lopsided grin. “One can’t have too much.” She lifted her hand up in a brief wave, and stepped back out into the hall.
(c) Copyright 1999 Alida Saxon and Joe R. Medina. All rights reserved.